Wimpy brakes?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Lrac6, Aug 17, 2006.

  1. Lrac6

    Lrac6 New Member

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    Hello All,

    I bought a Raleigh Cadent 1.0 abouth a month ago and have been commuting on it. This is the first road bike I've ever owned and I love it. Before this, I had a 15 year old DiamondBack mountainbike (no suspension).

    One thing that is bothering me is that I feel like the brakes are really wimpy! As I'm commuting on this thing - I use the brakes all the time (stop lights, stop signs, cars, etc). I feel like I really have to use a lot of hand strength to get the bike to stop. To compound the problem, my grip strength already isn't that great due to minor RSI from being a programmer. On my old MTB though, I felt like I could stop very confidently w/o putting strain on my hands. Now, (especially riding the hoods and trying to squeeze 'down' on the brakes), I feel like my hands are at max grip strength just to stop.

    What can I do to increase my stopping power? I mentioned this to my LBS and he said 'yeah - road bike brakes are wimpy' :mad:

    Thanks in advance, Carl
     
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  2. RussB

    RussB New Member

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    I noticed the brakes on my road bike are not as good at stopping as the ones on my hybrid. I think they are intentionally made "wimpy-er" due to the fact that the tires are so narrow. If the brakes work too good you'll lock up the wheels (I could lock my hybrid wheels). This would result in loss of control and you would wear through tires very quickly.

    On my hybrid I only used the front brakes once in awhile. On my road bike I use both simultaneously. I remember when reading through a manual way back when, it mentioned using the back to decrease speed, using both when stopping.

    I would recomend having your brakes checked for wear and proper position on the rim, proper angle, calipers gripping evenly, etc. And if you're not satisfied with the last bike shop, try another one. It never hurts to get a second opinion when it comes to safety.

    Russ B
     
  3. rayhuang

    rayhuang New Member

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    YOur LBS is full of it. I test rode some bikes with Tektro (sp?) brakes and the bikes had no stopping power. my hands hurt after the test ride. I tried some with 105 levers and 105 brakes, better, but still not what I want when going 45 mph or racing in a group or traffic.

    The bike I bought has Ultegra shifters and brakes and I am sure I can lock up the frnt and ut the bike on its nose-not that I would.

    On a side note-I just took off the Shimano Wh-R550 wheel set and installed DT r1.1 rims and the stopping power has increased again. I dont knw why the braking surface of the machined DT's is better than the R550's but it is.
     
  4. rayhuang

    rayhuang New Member

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    Anyways-I always type like a windbag-the point is-get on e-bay or see if the bike shop will upgrade you to 105, ULtegra or Cane Creek brakes with brake pads in cartidges for a fair price and take the brakes back. Also-moving to Shimano cables can help too, as long as the brakes are already good.
     
  5. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    If there is a problem, it can usually be remedied by either replacing or "fixing" your brake pads.

    Consider replacing them with Dura Ace or Ultegra pads ... they are, by many, considered to be the standard by which others should be judged.

    MAKE SURE THAT THERE ISN"T A GLAZE ON THE PADS ... same kind of glaze that occurs to the rubber eraser on the end of a #2 pencil ... take some sandpaper and (easier with the wheel out of the frame) buff the pads to a dull finish.

    Of course, this is the kind of thing you are paying the LBS a premium for (setting up the bike properly), but ...

    The REAR brake IS just for slowing the bike down ... stopping is best done with the front brake ...

    In the past two dozen years, the standard has become:

    RIGHT == rear & LEFT == front

    You don't have to adhere to this ...

    Cyclocross riders commonly use their right lever to actuate the front brake caliper ...

    If your left hand is significantly weaker, re-route your brake cables so that the LEFT brake is for the rear and the RIGHT is for the front.
     
  6. Lrac6

    Lrac6 New Member

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    Crap, so the only way I'll be able to stop comfortably is upgrading to components I can't afford? Bummer. Seems like the brakes themselves would have more to do with it than the levers anyhow?
     
  7. Lrac6

    Lrac6 New Member

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    Aha - new brakes pads, that makes sense to me. I'll break out the sandpaper when I get home too. I am braking with the front brake to stop, but my left hand is weaker than my right. I asked how hard it would be to switch right-to-left, and they thought that it was somewhat tough.
     
  8. rayhuang

    rayhuang New Member

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    I modulate and use both my front and rear brakes. When i need to slow for a stop sign or bleed off a littls speed I will grab both brakes lightly. When I need to stop right now I use a lot of front brake and less than front, but a lot of rear. If my front seems close to locking up-I let go of the rear just a bit to transfer more weight to the front or move my weight forward to plant the front.

    I hope this doesnt seem overly complex, but these things make you a safer rider.
     
  9. kleng

    kleng New Member

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    +1 Try better brake pads first, either shimano, koolstop etc,
    also adjust pads so that they are closer to the rim braking surface, that way the mechanical action of the brake lever will work sooner and give you more braking leverage.
     
  10. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    It isn't tough to change the cabling ... just tedious if you are undoing an existing set up because it involves unwrapping & re-wrapping the handlebar tape.

    Of course, this is something you can do yourself ...







    The main thing is that you have to:
    1) unwrap the handlebar tape ...



    2) untape the respective cable housings ...

    3) detach the cables from their respective calipers (pinch the aluminum end cap with a pair of pliers to get it to release them from the cables .... you can probably re-use them if you don't mangle them too badly)

    4) push the cable through the housing while pulling the lever toward the handlebar (this will expose the gimble that the cable threads into) ...

    5) untape the brake housings from the handlebars ...

    6) push the shorter cable through the gimble in the RIGHT lever ... WITH THE HOUSING NOT INSERTED in the rear of the brake lever, if the tip of the cable isn't frayed (it shouldn't be unless the shop did a bad job in the original installation) you can just wiggle it through the gimble & against the back of the inside of the lever AND more-often-than-not it will find the hole (well, it does for me) ...

    7) REPEAT on the LEFT side with the longer brake cable

    8) push the respective housing onto the respective cable ... push it into the rear of the housing (it probably won't seat ... don't worry).

    9) attach the relocated RIGHT cable to the front brake caliper. Squeeze the lever to seat the housing ... you may have to repeat this. Adjust the brakes.

    10) attach the relocated longer/LEFT cable to the rear brake caliper ... and, seat the cable housing by attaching/squeezing ...



    Tape the cable housing in place ...



    Re-wrap the bars ...

    With all that, hopefully I didn't forget any obvious steps ...

    MOST of the time you spend doing this will be in re-wrapping the bars. It isn't as labored as I probably made it seem.

    BTW. There CAN BE a real problem with brake cables & housing ... they are not created equally. LUBRICATE THEM ... you can make generic cable housing almost as smooth as Campagnolo's (well, at least, I can!) if you lubricate it.

    IF YOU HAVE A MOUNTAIN BIKE that you ride regularly, then remember to change the brake cabling on it, too ... that will simply involve detaching the cables from their levers and reattaching it to the other lever -- a two minute job. If you lend your bike(s) to anyone, let them know the brakes are cabled differently than the norm.
     
  11. gclark8

    gclark8 New Member

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    I hate to state the obvious, it is impossible to get full brake pressure from the hoods position. Try with your hands below and then grab a fist full, otherwise relocate the lever to a more accessable position.

    (Like Thomas Cho did with TT bull horn bars) ;)
     
  12. free_rideman

    free_rideman New Member

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    What is this??? Use common sense!!! Logic! Ay ya ya!

    Anyways, get Kool stop samon pads. The best pads out there.....

    Also make sure that the cable job that someone did, was good. A crappy housing job will suck! Bottom line!

    I can lock up my brakes when ever I want to. End of story. And I use 105 calipers. But of course with the Kool stop samon pads.

    Oh, and adjust the shoes, so that the whole shoe/pad contacts the center of the rim.

    Like with all components, 75-90% is all about setup. Do it correctly!
    (and yes I pulled that statistic from my behind, but you get the point)
     
  13. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    REALLY?!?

    George, I brake from the hoods all the time (okay, make that almost all the time) ... I suppose I could get a little more leverage from the drops, but ...

    The cable & cable housing really can make a difference, IMO. I've definitely experienced OTHER people's bikes (okay, I suppose some of mine, too) where lubing the cable can-be-or-has-been a great difference (i.e., MY cables, in the latter instance!) ...

    IMO, Shimano STI levers should be mounted so that the nameplate is almost horizontal (on the old, 9-speed levers) ... and, the back of the hood's horn is amost vertical. Maybe I just mount them that way to echo the "grab" of my Campagnolo levers, but it works (for me) ...
     
  14. gclark8

    gclark8 New Member

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    All good comments. I prefer my flat bar road bikes, I was on the GFs Road bike yesterday, you have to be a contortionist to stop the thing. :eek:
     
  15. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    As others have said, get different pads. Pads are the biggest difference between brake calipers in terms of performance. Kool Stop makes some good pads, as does Swissstop.

    As for road bike brakes being wimpy, that's a load of crap. Properly setup road brakes apply all the braking necessary. You can lock up the rear, but on clean, dry pavement, you can't lock up the front. The bike will pitch over (do a stoppie) the front before the front will lock up. Now whether or not a particular set of brakes feels right to you depends on the aforementioned pads, the lever ratio at the caliper, as well as how the cable is set up and how close the pads are to the rim before they're actuated.
     
  16. Lrac6

    Lrac6 New Member

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    Wow, thanks for all the suggestions. I'll try replacing the pads, and go from there. Good to hear that it isn't a problem endemic to road bikes (of course I suspected as much, which is why I posted ;)
     
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